Walking into The Daily Pennsylvanian offices in September 1997, I was quite pleased to find out that I would be able start covering a beat immediately. I had written for my high school newspaper for four years and believed I was up to the task of writing for a college newspaper.
I had no delusions of grandeur, however. I knew I would not be covering football or basketball, and I was happy to learn that I had been assigned to the men's tennis beat. I had played tennis in high school and enjoyed going to the Quakers' practices and matches.
Even better, the beat was easy. Because I knew about the sport, writing 14 inches on the team every week was not a hard task.
In the winter, I covered men's swimming. This was a change. I knew very little about competitive swimming. I had gone to one swim meet in high school and spent most of the time talking to my friends in the stands.
And because I knew very little about the sport, my writing suffered. I did not enjoy going to the meets and to make matters worse, the team was not very good.
The same thing happened in the spring. I was assigned to women's track and spent little effort learning the intricacies of the sport and the team. The coach didn't like me very much and that didn't help the quality of the articles either.
I left for the summer not knowing whether I wanted to continue as a sports writer. I had been unhappy with my overall DP experience, but decided to give it one more shot.
I was assigned to the women's volleyball beat despite requesting either women's or men's soccer. I knew I didn't deserve a popular beat after my horrible writing the year before, but was still upset.
Like swimming and track, I was not well versed as to the rules and strategies of volleyball. But the coach and players seemed nice, so I decided to pursue the beat.
It was one of the best decisions I made at my four years at Penn.
As a sports writer for the DP, I was able to cover the Penn-Princeton basketball game where the Quakers became the undefeated two-time champions of the Ivy League. I covered the Penn-Maryland game when the Terps visited the Palestra last winter.
And, I covered a very memorable Penn-Brown football game last fall when Penn came back from 25 points in the fourth quarter to win the game and, eventually, the Ivy Championship.
But my most fond memories while working for the DP occurred during my sophomore year while writing on the women's volleyball beat.
It wasn't because volleyball became my favorite sport. I really enjoyed watching the matches, but if I had the choice, I'd rather view a basketball or football game. And it wasn't because writing the articles were easy. It was because I put effort into my work.
From the outset I knew that if I wanted my writing to be up to the level that I expected from myself, I would have to go that extra mile.
So I did.
I went to practice even when I wasn't writing. I traveled to away games. I built relationships with the coach and some of the players. I learned things about volleyball that only an avid fan would know.
The extra work paid off. Not only was I proud of my work, but so were the editors, the team and, most importantly, the readers. My friends and even people whom I hardly knew came up to me and told me that they had enjoyed reading my articles.
The cliche "you get out of it what you put into it" is thrown around a lot, and before the fall of 199' I did not realize how that phrase really does ring true. But thanks to the DP and the 199' Penn women's volleyball team, I will always remember that saying. It is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.Comments powered by Disqus
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